Tellus Publications (Selected)
In the past decade, investment in land used for agriculture and forestry in low- and middle-income countries has grown dramatically. This study reveals that US investors—mainly private equity and hedge funds—play a substantial role financing agribusiness companies that employ monoculture production in low-income countries at the expense of biodiversity and greater food security. The analysis is based on primary data collected from interviews with investors and fund managers involved in farmland and timberland investments and experts from civil society organizations, as well as a review of secondary and limited primary data on US investors and investment funds engaged in large-scale land acquisitions in low- and middle-income countries. The report also discusses the challenges to gaining access to information and the need for stronger public disclosure requirements.
Public Investment in Private Higher Education: Estimating the Value of Nonprofit College and University Tax Exemptions
Few phenomena embody higher education’s social contract with the public more concretely than annual taxpayer support, through direct payments, grants, and contracts and indirectly through tax incentives, subsidies, and exemptions. This report offers a bottom-up methodology to estimate the public tax expenditure resulting from non-profits colleges and universities’ tax exemption. Its approach employs and expands on methodologies developed through comparable research on hospitals and the nonprofit sector more broadly in order to arrive at a methodology appropriate for estimating the public investment in individual private, non-profit schools Northeastern University provides a demonstration case for developing the underlying estimation techniques, the application of which we present at the federal, state, and local levels.
Total Portfolio Activation: A Framework for Creating Social and Environmental Impact Across Asset Classes
Interest in investment that pursues social and environmental impact has exploded in recent years. Although opportunities for impact investing have emerged across asset classes, most impact-investment activity has remained largely confined to a limited array of private investments. To help fill this gap, this paper introduces a simple conceptual framework for organizations and individuals seeking greater impact and better alignment between their investment activities and their mission or values: Total Portfolio Activation. The basic insight that drives Total Portfolio Activation is that every investment across every asset class has social and environmental impacts—positive and negative. This report further offers concrete steps to help any institutional investor begin working toward a fuller activation of their portfolio in support of their mission.
Environmental, Social and Governance Investing by College and University Endowments in the United States: Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Relations
With more than $400 billion in combined assets under management, US college and university endowments constitute an important segment of institutional investors involved in sustainable and responsible investing—defined here as the explicit incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment decision-making and active-ownership activities. This study provides one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of the state of ESG investing by educational endowments.